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Thursday, 10 February 2011
Page: 476

Senator POLLEY (1:07 PM) —I take great delight in being able to continue my remarks on this important piece of legislation, the Family Assistance Legislation Amendment (Child Care Budget Measures) Bill 2010. The Australian Early Development Index suggests that 23.5 per cent of all Australian children are vulnerable in at least one of the domains assessed by this index. The index looks at issues such as physical health and wellbeing, social competence, emotional maturity, language and cognitive skills, communication skills and general knowledge.

These measures will significantly benefit all children receiving child care and early education in Australia. There will be a small impact on very few Australians. I acknowledge that. The Abbott coalition thinks this should be deferred indefinitely. This is yet again a demonstration of how those opposite do not have the capacity to support good pieces of legislation that will do good things for Australian families, in particular for our children. It is hardly fair to defer this indefinitely. It is not fair to our children, to Australian families or to those within the childcare industry. Why should they have to wait?

While we acknowledge, as I said, that there will be an impact, you must agree that the benefits hugely outweigh the costs. I am sure John Stuart Mill would agree: there is a much greater good for the greater number—in this case, for all of our community, as our children will benefit. From my point of view, and from the government’s point of view, I would suggest that there is no greater investment than this investment and those we need to make in similar legislation for our children—into children’s health and wellbeing and their education. There is no doubt that the studies I referred to earlier in my speech reinforce that the money we invest in early childhood, in terms of getting them ready for school, has long-term benefits for them academically, socially and from a general health and wellbeing point of view.

I urge those opposite to reconsider and to support this legislation. This is important legislation. It is going to support families. It will go a long way to support the children in child care and those working in the childcare industry. I therefore commend this piece of legislation and urge those opposite to support it. (Quorum formed)